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Arachnophobia: An Irrational Fear or an Age-old Tradition?

Updated on July 24, 2015
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Following through some news links I came across a link to a story on Fox News called '2 people dead after swarms of venomous spiders invade Indian town'. My cursor hovered over the link. I was curious. Part of me wanted to be freaked out by the photo I was certain would accompany the article. And part of me even thought, "be brave, you fool!"

But I can tell you no more about the content of the article. I only know what the title has revealed - that two people are dead in an Indian town because of spiders. VENOMOUS spiders, at that!

Why? Why haven't I clicked on the link and satisfied myself that I'm a grown-up and that I can indeed handle anything that's thrown at me? (Oh, and please, that doesn't mean that you can throw a spider at me. Want to see a grown woman sob and squeal and possibly faint??!)

It is a phobia. Arachnophobia, in fact. Nothing more, nothing less. But why has this particular fear chosen me? I like snakes. I like meeting new people. I even like flying. Why spiders?

Causes

For me personally, I can not think back to any one event that would have led to this irrational fear. But then, I'm sure that the event need not have been memorable or long-lasting for it to be significant.

Although no one knows for sure what causes arachnophobia, experts believe that it stems from us humans having used arachnophobia as a survival technique. Seeing as most spiders are venomous - although the vast majority are not dangerous to humans - it was wise to keep our distance from spiders. Passed on from generation to generation, this strive for survival has evolved into a phobia.

The other school of thought is that phobias like these are based on cultural beliefs. For example, most people would show a fear when confronted with a big spider, but those in South America eat large spiders so one would imagine that they would not be afraid.

Is it common?

Wikipedia suggests that:

"In Western societies as many as 55% of females and 18% of males are estimated to experience arachnophobia."

and that:

"Arachnophobia is the most common of all phobias."

Treatment

With the help of a therapist, a person suffering with arachnophobia can go through systematic desensitisation, where they are first exposed to photos of spiders. Then they move on to coming face-to-face with a real spider. And finally, to holding a spider.

The therapist will help with relaxation techniques and in some cases, medication.

Conclusion

I won't be horrible and put any pictures of spiders on this page. It wouldn't do me any good either.

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    • woothie profile image
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      woothie 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Agreed. I went into a pet store today and came face-to-face with a tank with a tarantula in it. I tried to be brave. I watch it for a few seconds and imagined how anyone could eat it. Nope, couldn't do it.

    • onegreenparachute profile image

      Carol 5 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      When you wrote about South Americans eating them, my insides went all squeamy and my spine did this shiver-dancy thing. My mom was terrified by spiders and so am I. I was determined that my daughters wouldn't catch my phobia and tried to put on a brave face but it didn't work. They both are terrified by the dern things. I just think they're creepy. A kind of evil-creapy that makes my skin crawl and my teeth melt. I'm gonna vote this up Woothie. You have my sympathy too. ick

    • woothie profile image
      Author

      woothie 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      :) That makes sense, but did it work? I can't imagine me touching a spider even if it had a clown costume and big, floppy shoes!

      It's the way they move. The speed. Ugh.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 5 years ago from Philippines

      Very interesting. I think people are scared of spiders because they just look weird. I saw a TV show where a woman was advised to imagine the spider wearing a ballerina dress, so that she wouldn't be afraid to touch it:)